A Pinch of Basil’s
Patrick Sullivan thought he’d try something new, and he’d like
Boone to do the same.
Before opening Basil’s Fresh Pasta & Deli, the Stick Boy Bread Company alum and Melanie’s Food Fantasy co-owner had never tried his hand at making pasta.
And “making pasta” doesn’t mean boiling noodles and adding sauce. To Sullivan and wife Laura, it’s making everything from scratch — from the pasta itself to the sauces that cover it. Throw in almost two dozen artisan sandwiches, homemade soups, salads, a market rife with gourmet goodies (wine, cold cuts, homemade hummus and local beef, to name a few) and an ever-growing variety of takeout options, and you’ve got the High Country’s freshest restaurant concept.
“We’re doing something that’s new to Boone,” Sullivan said.
The concept came from a deli, called Pasta & Provisions, that Sullivan would frequent when growing up in Charlotte.
“I’d always go there as a kid and thought it was so cool that people were actually creating food,” he said. “When I came to Boone for school (in 2004), it seemed like I found myself thinking back to that and wondering if people had such an appreciation for other good stuff up here — good beer, bread and so on — and that this would be a good fit, too.”
Tommy George from Pasta & Provisions guided Sullivan through the opening process, helping him find the right pasta machine and offering some tips of the trade.
“It’s about executing the recipe,” Sullivan said. “Tommy helped us with some principles for the sauces, too. With our marinara, you want that really deep, rich tomato flavor, and the only way to get that is cooking it for a very long time. So, ours is cooked for five and a half hours, which takes it from being a collection of ingredients to something more.”
The equipment and recipes also make for something of a chef’s playground, with Sullivan and company experimenting and rolling out new menu items on a regular basis, like an herbs de Provence noodle or a forthcoming Italian meat ravioli. “I’ve always enjoyed taking material and playing with it,” he said.
That includes the menu. The deli section remains consistent, but the pasta menu features a revolving cast of culinary characters. That includes an assortment of homemade ravioli, from traditional cheese to the far less common. Selections include asparagus, spinach, sundried tomato pesto, basil pesto, roasted pepper, sweet potato, shrimp and chicken.
More traditional pastas are also available, complemented by a bevy of homemade sauce options — marinara, puttanesca, vodka cream, Bolognese, creamy chicken, wild mushroom, pomodoro, artichoke pesto, roasted red pepper pesto, basil pesto and red or white clam sauce.
At least two pastas and sauces are available daily for dine-in, with the Sullivans alternating selections based on the ingredients’ freshness. They’ve also added homemade pizza by the slice to the lunch list, with full pies soon to come.
And every menu item is available for takeout, including made-to-order pasta and sauce. Frozen, prepared meals include spaghetti and meatballs, dubbed “the easiest dinner possible,” and lasagnas, both of which can be portioned in couple- or family-sized portions.
“We have pasta and ravioli you can take home and cook yourself, all sold by the pound, and that’s something you don’t see that often,” Sullivan said. “You can stop by here, and when you get home, dinner can be ready in 10 minutes. It’s the classic 5 o’clock dinner rush; you don’t want to eat out, but you don’t want to cook anything that’s in your fridge.”
While Basil’s is ideal for those in a rush, the Sullivans have created a relaxing atmosphere that encourages diners to do the opposite. Basil’s celebrated its grand opening in late 2013, and the couple has been working to expand the restaurant’s offerings since.
“There are so many places you can just walk in, sit, eat and leave, but we’re trying to be a little more than that,” Sullivan said. “We’re trying to be a place where you can hang out, have a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, pint of beer and spend some time actually visiting with people.”
He hopes that Basil’s bar specials, including $2 pints on Mondays and half-priced glasses of wine on Tuesdays, will encourage patrons to relax for a while in the restaurant’s lounge area.
“On a functional level, we make fresh pasta and ravioli and sauces from scratch, but on a larger level, I’d really like us to be a community hub, where people can come and have good food, meet people and hang out and just be really comfortable,” Sullivan said.
As such, Basil’s hosts regular wine tastings and can also serve as a venue for events and private parties.
So far, customer reaction has been positive.
“As we’ve grown into our space … I think they appreciate our approach to things,” Sullivan said. “We want to create food that’s really good, and we want to share.”
Folks can taste for themselves at Basil’s Fresh Pasta & Deli, located at 246 Wilson Drive, Suite K, in the Winkler’s Crossing shopping center in Boone. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. For more information, including a calendar of events, visit http://www.basilspasta.com , or call (828) 386-4066.
Got restaurant news? Contact editor Frank Ruggiero at (firstname.lastname@example.org) , or (828) 264-6397.